Richard Mann previews more first-round action from the Betfred World Snooker Championship where Ali Carter and Kyren Wilson are in action.
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Last year's beaten semi-finalist Kyren Wilson kicks off his World Championship campaign against qualifier Scott Donaldson on Wednesday afternoon and this should prove a tough workout for the Kettering potter against a vastly-improved opponent.
Donaldson is currently enjoying the best season of his career, one which has seen him reach the semi-finals of two events and the quarters of four more, the most recent coming when making the last four at the valuable China Open.
The 25-year-old had some high-profile scalps among his victims that week, beating the likes of Joe Perry, David Gilbert, Ricky Walden and Ben Woollaston with some terrific snooker and particularly heavy scoring.
Donaldson maintained that strong form in qualifying for the World Championship, beating the likes of Craig Steadman and Lu Ning on the way to booking his place at the Crucible, and he held himself together really well in the last of those matches to win a tense deciding frame having seen his 9-4 lead eroded to 9-9.
This will be Donaldson's first appearance at the Crucible Theatre but he certainly looks to have the temperament to cope with the biggest stage of all, and even thrive on it, and I'm keen to back him on the handicap (+3.5) against Wilson.
For someone whose career is still in its relative infancy, Wilson has already built a solid Crucible record with two quarter-finals and a semi-final coming from only four appearances in Sheffield and there is no doubt that these longer, multi-session matches suit his game well.
Wilson produced some outstanding snooker on the way to making the last four last year but couldn't maintain it when John Higgins eventually brought his run to an end and he will be desperate to put that right and make his first final.
He has certainly looked keen to take his game to another level this term and wins at the Paul Hunter Classic and German Masters as well as a fine runner-up finish at the Champion of Champions show what a dangerous player he is on his day.
However, it is his more recent form that concerns me and I'm sure an improving player like Donaldson, one who will be full of confidence this week, can push him close - and even cause a big upset.
Early exits at the Players Championship and Tour Championship were followed by a recent defeat to Rod Lawler at the China Open and although it is fair to assume the return to Sheffield can be taken as a positive, he will need to return to something like his best if he is to enjoy another deep here.
As I've mentioned before, Wilson's cue-ball control remains an area of concern if he is to become one of the elite players in the sport, though he has made strides in that department, and given his patchy recent form, I'm just not convinced he should be as short as 1/5 to beat a player of Donaldson's capabilities.
Donaldson on the handicap (+3.5) will do for me with a small top-up on him to win the match at 7/2.
On Wednesday evening, Jack Lisowksi takes on beaten 2008 and 2012 finalist Ali Carter in one of the most interesting ties of the first round.
Lisowksi is a huge talent who has enjoyed a really consistent season, reaching three ranking finals, but a major title still evades him and by his own admission, his safety game needs work if he is to capture significant silverware.
A fluent, heavy scorer who pots for fun, Lisowksi was nevertheless taught a few harsh lessons when losing 13-1 to John Higgins in the second round here last year and the battle-hardened Carter will be hoping his all-round game can prove the difference in this multi-session match.
Carter's own season has been a strange one, a brilliant run to the final of the World Grand Prix the highlight of a campaign which has also seen him suffer a number of early exits, but he played really well to come through qualifying here and he has the safety game to cause Lisowski serious problems if able to keep tabs on the younger man through the early stages of the match.
It might not be pretty, but Carter would do well to drag Liwowski into a dog fight and should he be able to do so, I can only see one winner. Any odds-against quotes are well worth taking.
Posted at 1400 BST on 23/04/19